I have recently noticed a great deal of interest in information on building wooden wheelchair ramps. While I recently wrote an article that covered the building of concrete ramps here at my own residence. I thought I would cover building a wooden wheelchair ramp. I have in the past built several wooden ramps.
Wooden ramps come in a wide range of sizes and materials. So we will cover the general rules you must follow in order to build a sturdy and most importantly safe wooden wheelchair ramp. I say most of all safe because I have seen and even used some wooden ramps that to my mind were more dangerous than not having a ramp. There are seven thing you must know in order to build a safe and sturdy wooden ramp.
1. Do I really need a wooden ramp here or would something else be better?
2. Remember the rules of ramp building. Your angle is 1:2 or 1″ rise = 12″ run, every 30″ rise a landing of 60″ long. Avoid long runs break them up if you can.
3. Materials must pressure treated or rated for outdoor use. Use stainless steel or galvanized carriage bolts and screws. You’ll round footing forms and post brackets as well.
4. The tools you will need are very basic. You will need a hand saw or circular saw. A drill with a 1/2″ bit to drill holes for the carriage bolts. A ratchet to tighten the nuts. A tape measure, a carpenters square, level, and cordless drill driver are other tools you will need. You will also need a post hole digger and a shovel.
5. Any structure is only as good as it’s foundation. So we take special care with the footings of our wheelchair ramp. They should be place every six feet forming a 6′ x 4′ rectangle with a post bracket embedded in the top.
6. Don’t make it too steep. Always check your angle and use the ratio. If it is too steep the user won’t make it up.
7. Put it together right! Use screws for the decking and nuts and bolts at all the joints. Think of the ramp as a bridge for a wheelchair and build it as such. Don’t just nail it together.
As we can see building a wooden wheelchair ramp is not a simple undertaking. It is however within the skill level of the average do-it-yourself builder. And while I wrote an article covering the building of a concrete ramp it was a rather simple threshold ramp you would encounter in typical slab construction home. I would not however recommend a concrete ramp project of the scale I have just described for the do-it-yourself builder unless you have prior experience with concrete projects of this scale.